I was fortunate enough to save a little known book from that
necessary activity that is embarked upon with the best of intentions
which sometimes yield grave results, the dreaded "technical update".
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not a technophobe, or a Luddite, possibly a
romantic but that's another story. This book was very nearly discarded
to the dust bin never to be found again.
This book is a hardcover industry publication - the advertisements
dotted thorough out make that clear - , a handbook of sorts that lists
and gives formulae for the many spontaneous yeast barms that individual
bakers were using in most parts of Australia prior and up to 1929.
Although the book has many formulas with quaint names such as
"Williamson's Yeast" , "Quick Wayback Yeast", "An Eminently
Satisfactory Yeast" etc. etc. the author treats it as an educational
tool to educate bakers regarding basic yeast morphology and growth
requirements with sketches and even a microscope photograph. The author
also goes into baking bread in general and gives bits of technical
information that bakers would find useful. One such technical aspect of
this book is the brief introduction to "pure culture" of commercial
yeast which was already accepted in some city bakeries. However, Mr.
Frank B. Withers isn't pulling any punches and states that country
bread is noticeably better than city bread due to the "spon yeasts"
still being used.
Withers devotes a section on faults and featuring among them is
"Sourness in Bread" with explanations of how certain conditions in
bread doughs favours lactic acid bacteria and he gives remedial actions
that can be taken to reduce the sourness of bread through barm
management and dough fermentation times etc.
As a piece of history I treasure it and find it fascinating to read
as well as savour the wherewithal of Withers as a technical baker. I
have to admit I haven't tried any of these formulae but perhaps one day
my good intentions will come to fruition, but in the mean time I
thought some here may find it interesting.
Below is a few photos of the first pages and contents.
The book is dedicated to E J Birbeck
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